In the Hands
Paul Cantrell’s music
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Song for Lost Things (rough)

I’m doing something today that I haven’t done in far too long: sharing a recording of a new composition in progress.

I’ve been working for some time on a set of piano pieces, all of them dances in one way or another — and all of them, in one way or another, full of the feeling of entropy, full of things falling apart and things slipping away.

This particular one has much sweetness in it, but its main ingredient is ambiguity. Its different layers are centered in different keys, different places. They mesh so that a note which sounds unresolved in its own layer often harmonizes with what is going on in a layer above or below — and then when that note resolves within its own layer, it must move away from resolution with respect to that other layer it seemed to agree with a moment ago. This means that the layers are always pulling against each other, entwined but tugging in different directions, and the music is always simultaneously both resolving and unresolving.

Of course, this all happens quickly, and it’s hard to hear all these little individual motions. Instead, it all blends together to give the music a restless, floating, perpetually suspended quality. The music does eventually find a place to rest, but it’s fleeting — remember: falling apart, slipping away — ah, but I’m giving away too much! I’ll let the music tell its own story:

Song For Lost Things (slightly rough version)

I still haven’t fully worked out the interpretation, so I’m calling this performance “slightly rough:” as I live with the music for a while, I’m sure I’ll find that I want to play some things differently. It may come as a surprise, but even with the things I write, I still have to go through the same careful process of interpretation, figuring out how the music works, and how to play it just so.

There are nine pieces in the whole set, of which I’ve posted this one and four others in rough form: Entropic Waltz, Dance for Remembering and Forgetting, Cradle Waltz, and Disembodied Dance. Wish me luck learning the rest!

Update: Here’s the score.



Good luck, Paul!

Out of curiosity, where does this one fit in the sequence of dances?


Hi Paul !

I just love the polyphonic side of your piece at the begining. AMAZING !
I am glad you made this recording for us. Looking forward to seeing the music sheet.
“A bientot”,


Joel: It is number 6 of 9.

Franck: The score is now available on the scores page.

Helder Ribeiro

Hi, Paul! I can’t tell you how delighted I was to find out about your blog and subscribe to your podcast! The work you are doing is amazing, and it is a whole different experience having this close contact with the artist, sort of a backstage feel, reading you write about the music, learning about the recording process, having the pieces introduced and explained. I really appreciate it and hope you keep giving us such great presents. :-)

Tim Smith

Hello Paul,

This is an exquisitely beautiful composition, a rare find! There’s so much here that I hardly know where to begin. May I use it with my form & analysis students as an example of nested ternary forms? That middle section has got to be a quote of Schumann, maybe Strauss? I love the motivic unity between parts, also exemplifying a neo-classicism of sorts (although I suspect that you might shy away from the label). May I showcase this work using the new hypertext tools I’m developing at Please take a look at the preliminary, and if you don’t like it I’ll take it down. The mp3 is served from your site. Thank you for sharing your wonderful artistry!

Tim Smith